The next time you’re working on a complex project, why not use a diagramming or mind mapping program to visually map your process flow? It can help you to see how you need to structure your work for maximum efficiency.
A case in point: I recently finished writing a new book, Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Ways to Add Value to Your Work, which I will self-publish on May 1, 2012. Much of the content was initially written in Evernote, a flexible and portable note-taking app for the iPhone. Because the book contains over 50 strategies, I had a lot of content to keep track of. I needed to quickly know the status of each segment of my writing, so I could move it to the next stage. So I placed the bits and pieces of the book in appropriately-named folders in Evernote, so I could tell the status of each element just by virtue of the folder it was in. This arrangement worked very well.
As the project progressed, I found that I also needed to keep track of promotional ideas, bloggers with whom I wanted to share a pre-release copy of the book and much more. So I created folders to hold those ideas and bits of information. I then created the flow chart above as a reminder to myself of how I had organized my multi-faceted information capture system.
Note how the book content flows down the left side of the diagram, from a raw idea to dictated chunks of copy, to fully edited copy and finally the writing of action items for each of 52 strategies. On the right are the other elements I needed to track. They are all self-contained, so there is no “flow” that connects them together.
The biggest benefit of creating a visual representation of my book writing process was that it helped me to stay better organized. Once I got above a certain number of folders, I started to ask myself, “Why did I create this folder? What does it contain?” Instead of opening it up and looking at a few entries to try to discern their status, I could just get right to work, writing and editing each piece of the book – because I had a visual plan for it!
This diagram was created using SmartDraw 2012